Case Study – Anomalisa

On Thursday I went to Dundee’s DCA to watch a stop motion film called Anomalisa, written and directed by surreal film legend Charlie Kaufman.  The film is about a man who gives speeches about Customer Service, Michael, dealing with his life through the monotony  he faces daily.  Michael has an issue in his life that every other person in his life has the same face, and same voice.  He has lost his ability to see people uniqueness and individual discrepancies that make them an individual.  This is not entirely clear until he arrives at his hotel in Ohio and calls his wife.  As his wife is finished speaking to him in a man’s voice, she passes the phone to Michael’s son who has the exact same voice.  The fact that his wife already had a man’s voice was unusual, and once we heard that the son had the same voice, it makes it clear that something is not quite right in Michael’s head.  Thankfully Tom Noonan has a pleasant voice, as it is heard constantly throughout the film, more helpful though is that his voice has a very distinct tone.  This makes it obvious the reason that Kaufman has created this world of uniformity.  Among all of this, at one point Michael hears another voice walking past his hotel room door, a woman’s voice (Jennifer Jason Leigh).  This is something that through the story we learn hasn’t been experienced my Michael in 11 years, so he follows the voice.  Michael finds Lisa, who he invites for a drink and then back to his hotel room.  Michael is drawn to Lisa because of her voice and different face to the rest of the world, and desires to run away with her for her uniqueness.  After the first night with Lisa Michael gives his speech in the hotel.  This is when it becomes clear the extremity of Michael’s mind, we see Lisa’s face clear in an army of clones in the audience.  This is when it all becomes clear as Michael has a breakdown on stage and begins getting heckled by many people, all identical to each other in face and voice.  Lisa manages to overlook this and then they go to Michaels room to eat lunch together.  Over lunch, Michael finds several things about Lisa annoying including the way she talks within her vocabulary and mannerisms and the way she eats.  Once Michael realises these things, Lisa’s voice begins slowly slipping into the voice that we hear for everyone else.  He also catches her face in a strong sunlight and it begins to merge into the one we saw for everyone else as well.

Overall this was not the most intricate display of sound within film, but I found it very interesting to carry a movies entire plot point just from the perspective of dialogue and voice acting.  It is something that I am not aware that I have seen before, and recommend anyone to watch it.


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